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A fan rendering of George R. R. Martin and some of his favorite “characters.” Opposite: The interior of Martin’s Beastly Books, which the author opened in 2019.

A new bookstore makes the Santa Fe Railyard more of a trip


Emily Dickinson wrote, “There is no frigate like a book / to take you lands away,” which remains true, despite our modern buffet of escapist media. Far from the digital onslaught of daily life, local independent bookstores remain the best way to discover the perfect tome. Dodging the extinction threatened by chain stores, online retailers, and pandemic shutdowns, each of Santa Fe’s independent bookstores is a distinct world to visit, and the newest is also the most unusual.

Beastly Books is fantasy-literature giant George R. R. Martin’s latest contribution to the Santa Fe Railyard. The sunlit corner shop specializes in science fiction, fantasy, and collectible, autographed tomes of speculative fiction—along with impressive displays of literary and cinematic memorabilia. Sipping a frothy cappuccino from the coffee bar, one can marvel at an original spacesuit from the groundbreaking 1956 science fiction classic Forbidden Planet or a pair of creature costumes from the Beauty and the Beast TV series, for which Martin was a writer.

Manager Twig Delujé knows that the experience of in-person shopping is what makes Beastly Books indispensable for browsers and collectors. “Purchasing a book online is instantaneous, and maybe feels slightly disposable,” he says. “Here people go to a location, look through the shelves, interact with people recommending titles, and connect with other readers in the shop. It becomes very experiential.”

Beastly Books has a special connection with its neighbor, the Jean Cocteau Cinema, also lovingly restored by Martin and open since 2013. Having a theater space at its disposal, coupled with Martin’s name recognition, Beastly draws world-class fantasy and sci-fi authors for appearances. “With author events,” Delujé explains, “our goal is to have a reading or interview at the theater, and then folks come back to the shop afterwards and have a chance to meet the author and get their material signed.”

With author events ramping up this year, Delujé says, “We want to connect the art community, the writing community, and readership. We want to be a community space, a place for everybody to feel comfortable.”

The Jean Cocteau Cinema is a beloved Art Deco jewel capable of drawing big crowds, and Beastly Books is one of many new locales in the Railyard. Yet no matter how fast the world rumbles down its tracks, books will always be the best place to begin an unexpected journey.

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